The Importance of International Animal Rights Day

At Sabre Pet Food, we’re passionate about the well-being and fair treatment of all animals, which is why International Animal Rights Day is always such an important event in our calendar. We believe that every animal should be afforded the same, fair treatment as us and deserves the right to a happy and healthy life, regardless of whether they’re living in the wild, or otherwise.

What is International Animal Rights Day and how did it start?

International Animal Rights Day is an annual event honouring animals as sentient beings, who deserve the same protection as people. The globally observed event is often marked by demonstrations that expose animal exploitation, mourn the animal victims of human tyranny, and rally support for universal animal welfare.

Observed on 10th December every year, the event coincides with Human Rights Day. ‘Uncaged’, the animal rights group who were responsible for starting the event in 1998, intentionally chose this date to highlight the connection between animal rights and human rights.

The observance in 1998 came about as a result of a protest that was being held by ‘Uncaged’, during the 50th anniversary of the signing of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The protest was to demonstrate that animals also have the right to a life free from exploitation and suffering.

Today, the event is celebrated as a testament to how much the rights of animals have progressed in recent years, but also as a reminder that there is still a long way to go and a lot more work to do, to ensure that animals around the world are receiving fair treatment.

A Timeline of The Progression of Animal Rights

1635: Philosopher and mathematician René Descartes introduces the concept of animals as automatons, arguing that they lack consciousness and do not experience pain as humans do, influencing prevailing attitudes towards animal treatment. These beliefs were the foundation for the unethical treatment of animals, that continued for hundreds of years.

1822: The World’s first animal welfare organisation, The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), is founded in England, by Richard Martin and William Wilberforce

1840s: Legislation in the UK, known as Martin’s Act, is enacted to protect domestic animals from cruelty

1954: The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is founded, becoming one of the largest and most influential animal protection organisations in the world

1975: Australia becomes the first country to establish a government-funded organisation dedicated to animal welfare, the Australian Animal Welfare Council

1975: Peter Singer's influential book, "Animal Liberation," is published, catalysing the modern animal rights movement, and influencing public perceptions of animal ethics

1986: The European Union recognises animals as sentient beings in its Treaty of Rome, acknowledging their ability to feel pain and pleasure

1992: Switzerland includes the dignity of individual animals in its constitution, marking a significant legal recognition of animal rights

2002: Germany amends its constitution to include the protection of animals as a goal of the state

2007: The Animal Welfare Act 2006 is introduced, protecting all vertebrate animals. Under the Act, owners and keepers have a duty of care to their animals and must provide somewhere suitable for the animal to live, food and access to water, and any other care, necessary to the animal’s well-being.

2013: India outlaws the use of dolphins for public entertainment, recognising them as non-human persons with their own specific rights

2015: The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness is signed by a group of prominent neuroscientists, affirming that non-human animals possess consciousness and emotional experiences

2016: SeaWorld announced that they would end their in-park orca breeding program and eventually phase out their theatrical orca shows altogether, due to changing attitudes towards keeping animals in captivity.

2019: New Zealand declares that animals, including wild and domesticated species, have feelings, signalling a commitment to improving their welfare.

The Role of Education and Advocacy in the Fight for Animal Rights

Education, shared knowledge, and more progressive thinking that has become more prevalent in recent years, has been one of the significant catalysts for fostering change. Awareness campaigns, educational initiatives, and advocacy efforts have played a pivotal role in shaping societal attitudes towards animals. By understanding the impact of individual choices on animal welfare, people can make informed decisions that contribute to a more compassionate and ethical world.

What Can You Do?

There are plenty of ways to get involved:

  • Talk to friends and family about what animal rights mean to you and get conversations about animal rights happening, within your social circles
  • Reduce your consumption of animal products. Each meal has a ripple effect on animal protection and the environment
  • Write an opinion piece for your local paper about why we should protect animal rights. It's an excellent way to share knowledge and inspire change
  • Vote with your wallet — Don't buy from companies that do not include animal welfare practices as a priority
  • Get clicking and sharing with the hashtag #InternationalAnimalRightsDay. Let's make this message viral!
  • Join animal rights communities
So come on, join us, and millions of others, in the fight towards a better future for all animals. Find out more and get yourself involved here.